Marriage: Status of an imam [or a maulvi] for Marriage

Q368 :When I married my wife, she was a Christian. The witness to the marriage were my sister, her husband and the imam who took care of the formal contract of marriage. I did not ask the consent of her parents, since they wanted us to get married in the presence of a priest or a judge, which I declined. Later, my wife became a Muslim. Now we have three children. In view of the requirement of a woman's guardian to be present when the marriage contract is made, I would like to know whether my marriage is valid.

A368 : From what I gather from your letter, your wife's parents were willing to attend to your marriage contract, if it was done by a priest or a judge. Perhaps you would have been well advised to grant their wish and have the marriage officiated by a judge, even if he would not have been a Muslim. If you have enough Muslim witnesses, i.e. a minimum of two, then the marriage would have been perfectly valid. However, you did not wish to do that and wanted an imam to officiate. Let me tell you that in Islam, an imam does not have any particular status, except that given to him by his knowledge of Islam. Therefore, anyone who knows the rules of marriage and how a marriage contract should be done can make the marriage. Indeed, the marriage can be done without the presence of any such person, if the two parties concerned i.e. the husband and the wife's guardian know how to make the commitment and acceptance which are necessary for the marriage contract to be concluded. I see no point for you to be worried about the validity of your marriage. It is certainly valid, since it has had enough witnesses. The imam himself should be considered your wife's guardian because at that particular time, she could have no guardian. You may be sure that there is no question about the validity of your marriage.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )